Perseverance is key

2013-10-13T00:00:00Z Perseverance is keyMichelle Steward Principal Willowcreek Middle School nwitimes.com

Perseverance is an essential trait when we are dealing with others in the course of our daily lives. The dictionary defines perseverance as “…steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setback.”

Certainly when my boss sets a goal for me to accomplish, nothing less than “my best” will satisfy him. “My best” means working at the task until I complete it at the highest possible level. Sometimes, the task itself takes longer than I anticipated or the project takes an unexpected turn which involves more time and effort on my part than I was prepared for initially. Unless I wish to find myself another line of work – it is not an option to simply give up. I must persevere at the assigned task. Children need to learn and practice the skill of perseverance to be successful with it when they are adults.

Organized sports is one way for children to practice the art of perseverance. Joining a club or a sport that has regular meeting times forces a student to stick to a schedule, maintain attendance even in the face of other time commitments and continue involvement even if they decide they don’t like it anymore. This is not to say that a child should be forced to play soccer for 5 years if they decide they don’t like it, but they should be compelled to complete the season they are in and not drop out because they don’t like the work or the individuals involved. The skills gained by following through on their commitment are invaluable.

School is also an excellent vehicle to practice this critical value. First and foremost, students must be encouraged by their caregivers to come to school each day. There will always be times that a child would rather stay home than get up and get on the bus. A strong and supportive parent must encourage the child to persevere in their goal of a quality education. This goal cannot be achieved if the child is not in school. If there are problems, the adults in the child’s life must be on hand to help them work through the problem, not simply walk away from it.

Students may be assigned classes they may not care for or projects they do not particularly like. If they are given the option of dropping out of a class or “taking an F” in order not to complete a project, they are likely to permanently adopt this procedure of running away from a problem rather than staying the course and working through that which they do not like.

Often, having been forced to continue, the child will see the good in the activity and may even grow to enjoy some aspect of it. Conversely, they may never see the value in the activity they were forced to complete. But what they will take from the experience is the practice in completing what they begin – in persevering through a tough time to reach a goal. None of us will sail through life without hardships. Challenges are a natural part of life and we all experience them. The individual who has learned to persevere in the face of those challenges is the person who will thrive and find happiness in whatever path they follow.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

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